About operaramblings

Toronto based lover of opera, art song and related music

The Voices of Our Ancestors

tvooa_cover smallThis CD contains three works by Thea Musgrave. Two are fairly recent but the first, and to my mind the most interesting, dates back to 1973. It’s called Rorate coeli desuper!  It’s a setting of text by the 16th century Scots poet William Dunbar interspersed with short Latin sections.  The text is given, as sung, in Middle Scots and Latin but no translation.  It’s a wonderfully varied and eclectic piece scored for five soloists and SATB choir.  It is, I suppose, a sort of modern polyphony with lots of extended vocal techniques including droning, chattering, hissing and a very high soprano duet that imitates bird song.  The text is wonderfully evocative.  Here’s one verse as an example:

Done is a battle on the dragon black,
Our campion Christ confoundit has his force; The gates of hell are broken with a crack, The sign triumphal raisit is of the Cross,
The devils trymmillis with hiddous voce,
The souls are borrowit and to the bliss can go, Christ with his blood our ransom does endorse: Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

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Confluence announces virtual 2020/21 season

Confluence Concerts have announced a five concert and two special event virtual 2020/21 season with their usual eclectic and enticing mix of repertoire.

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September 23rd 2020 – Something to Live for; A Billy Strayhorn Celebration

A detailed look at the story of the great 20th century classical and jazz pianist and composer. Best known for his long-time collaboration with Duke Ellington, Strayhorn composed Take the A Train, Lush Life, Something to Live For, Chelsea Bridge, and A Flower is a Lovesome Thing.

Curated and arranged by Andrew Downing

Featuring Larry Beckwith, Alexa Belgrave, Leighton Harrell, Aline Honzy, Drew Jurecka, Marion Newman, Patricia O’Callaghan, Alex Samaras, Suba Sankaran and more.

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Clockwork Cenerentola

Following on from Massenet’s dreamlike, ambiguous Cendrillon I took a look at a fairly recent recording of Rossini’s much more straightforward, if somewhat moralising, opera buffa on the same theme La Cenerentola.  There’s no magic here.  The fairy godmother is replaced by the prince’s tutor Alidoro who engineers Angelina’s trip to the ball.  There’s no stepmother either but rather a stepfather and it’s unclear what has happened to either of the mothers one imagines must have been involved.

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Songs of Love and Sorrow

ODE1356-2 copySongs and Love and Sorrow is a new CD of music by Peter Lieberson played by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and its chief conductor Hannu Lintu.  There are two works on the album.  The first is The Six Realms; a cello symphony in six movements heavily influenced by Tibetan Buddhism.  The soloist here is Lieberson’s close friend Anssi Karttunen.  Curiously this work was commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as part of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project and premiered by them with Yo -Yo Ma conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste.  For more information on the piece see the Composer’s Notes.

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Cendrillon – dream or nightmare?

The libretto of Massenet’s Cendrillon is much more ambiguous than Rossini’s straightforward La Cenerentola and given that we all “know” the Cinderella story exploiting those ambiguities is likely to prove attractive to a director.  Fiona Shaw, whose Glyndebourne production was revived in 2019 under the revival direction of Fiona Dunn, finds rather more than. most.

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Youtube roundup

New(ish) content you might want to check out:

  • AtG’s Youtube channel has a really interesting interview with Peter Sellars and a very nice film presentation of Celia Livingston’s Penelope (after Homer’s Odyssey)
  • Toronto Operetta Theatre is also on Youtube now with excerpts from various shows from the last few years.  technical quAlity is very good.

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And coming up, this year’s Mysterious Barricades event in support of World Suicide Prevention Week is on September 10th. It’s virtual this year, of course, but needed now more than ever. Details on their Facebook page

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Searing Simon Boccanegra

Sometimes a video recording just seems to have it all and I would put the 2019 Salzburg Festival version of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra in that category.  It’s quite an interesting production but it’s the sheer quality of the music making that puts it in the very top bracket.  It’s also technically very good in all departments.

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Violanta

Violanta is one of those works which seem oddly out of place, among other things.  It’s a one act opera by the eighteen year old Erich Korngold which premiered in Munich and Vienna in 1916.  It hardly needs saying that most eighteen year olds in Europe in 1916 were engaged otherwise than in composing rather overwrought operas about seduction and death in 15th century Venice but there you go.

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Opera Atelier announces a real live 2020/21 season

Yes, Opera Atelier, bar further restrictions on gatherings/performances, is planning to offer two fully staged, costumed and choreographed live shows in the upcoming season, though only for a single performance of each.  Both will play at Koerner Hall which is well equipped both back stage and front of house for “social distancing”.

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Elora Festival opening concert

The first of three concerts from the Elora Festival was webcast last night.  It opened with a nicely produced video of the Elora singers performing Jonathan Dove’s In Beauty May I Walk which was followed by Lawrence Wiliford and Lucas Harris performing sings for lute and tenor.  The lute was a weird and wonderful thing combining the usual strings with a longer theorbo like section totalling 12 courses and 23 strings.  The  music was all from the 17th century (as best I can tell) ranging from well known names like Purcell and Blow to others like John Beck who are likely only familiar to specialists in this rep.  Anyway, it was beautifully done and makes one wish that this material would be performed more often.

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